Tag Team Parenting



To my great dismay when my now young adult son was in middle school, he became a fervent fan of professional wrestling.  I don’t mean to sound elitist, but I objected to the violence (yes, I know it is all scripted) and the objectification of women.  However, I was powerless against my son’s testosterone and his father’s tacit approval (he hadn’t out grown professional wrestling).  In time I just let it go.  Fortunately, our son learned his values from us and not from WWE (World Wrestling Entertainment).

You may wonder why I bring this up. I could write a blog about choosing one’s battles—a lesson I studied hard during the middle school years, but that is not today’s topic.  WWE taught me the term, Tag Team Parenting.  In a tag team match the two wrestlers in the ring have team members outside the ring.  If a wrestler can get close to his teammate and tag him, he can trade places.  Someone who is being pummeled tries to get close to his buddy and tag so he can leave the ring and fresh wrestler can come in.

If you have a two parent family, you can see how this approach could be quite useful.  Yet very often parents side off against each other when they face children’s challenging behavior.  Being a good team is tricky. Here are some points that make it easier.

  1. Get past the blame game.  If you hear your partner in an argument with your child over homework again, do you get angry with her as well?  If you step in angrily, saying, “Let me handle this,”  you are likely to aggravate the situation or undermine your partner.  You child will be likely to exploit this rift, as in, “I only want Dad to help me with homework.”
  2. Get on the same page.  You can only tag and get help if you both agree about what needs to be done.
  3. Offer support.  By talking about situations after the event you can get to the place that you understand that you want to help each other, rather than prove the other wrong.  Then when trouble arises, you can ask, “Can I help?”  and you can be helpful.
  4. Accept that you might have a blind spot.  Parents are not equally gifted at all ages of childrearing.  One might really understand grade school children but be provoked and befuddled by middle school kids.  You might think you are doing fine, but your partner might see a different, better way.  Be ready to listen.

If you can come to agreement and respect each other’s efforts, it will be easier to tag your partner and get help that feels like help and help that really helps your child.  Parent Coaching can give parents a neutral place to sort out what their common goals are and come to respect each other’s efforts.  Good luck in the ring of child rearing!


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Photo credit:  Carl Smith on Flickr


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